The Magical Question!
I'll tip my hand from the very beginning; I don't think there is a magical question, BUT asking questions is magical! Here are three areas I think asking questions can be a true game-changer.
Most of the time I believe we begin with a false premise about what communication is - getting someone else to hear me. We think the primary purpose of communication is getting our point across. I believe the purpose of authentic communication is actually coming to a place of mutual understanding, which is why questions can be such powerful tools! By using questions, we can come to a place of clarity where everyone leaves feeling like they have been heard and understood. That's magical!
I recently had someone tell me a story about a discovery they made in forming relationships with people. Whenever they meet someone new, they simply ask them some form of a question that involves asking the other person about themselves. For example: "Tell me about your week. How was it?" "What's your favorite thing to do in _______ (fill in the name of the town they live in)?" "What's the best thing that happened to you in the last month?" The person telling me this story said they have been amazed at how asking someone a simple question about themselves opens them up and creates an opportunity for connection. Imagine what it could do with people we already know? That's magical!
One of the things I regularly felt while working for the worst leader I've ever had, was not feeling like I was ever heard. Don't get me wrong, they acted like they were listening to me, and they even seemed to articulate understanding, but then we'd get into a meeting and something entirely different would be communicated and I would wonder, "Did they even hear me?!" As I've have reflected on that job, I can see in hindsight that the communication always felt like a one-way street, their way flowing my way, even when they were acting like they were listening to me! In contrast, one of the greatest leaders I ever worked for was a question machine! "Tell me more." "Help me better understand what you are saying." "What else would you like to share with me that you haven't said yet?" Those types of regular questions from that leader helped me feel like they not only heard me, but they actually wanted to know and understand my perspective. That's magical!
Which one of those spaces seems like the best starting place for you to use more questions this week? How could you use this magical power to better connect with someone in your life? What might the impact be if you paused long enough in your listening to someone to form a question in response, rather than just diving in with your next point?
(See how they all play together?!)
Here's to using the Magical Question this week! Be Well, Stephen Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center. We specialize in executive coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you! Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.